Forestry Master Plan and National Forestry Policy

Forestry Master Plan (FMP) addressing short- and long-term needs and goals of the forest sector is necessary for Bangladesh to design, implement and monitor forest conservation, development and sustainable management programs. Bangladesh is one of the countries with limited forest resources at only 2.56 Mha for a population of nearly 150 million. This limited forest cover is facing innumerable socio-economic and environmental pressures. Further, in the long-term, climate change is also likely to adversely impact the forest resources and forest dependent communities. Thus, a country like Bangladesh requires a comprehensive assessment of the forest sector and development of a FMP addressing the current and future challenges.

The “Climate Resilient Participatory Afforestation and Reforestation Project” has four Components and Component 3 refers to “Capacity Development for Forest Resource Planning and Management”. This component aims to strengthen the capacity of BFD and targeted communities to better manage forest resources confronted with climate change risks and support capacity assessment, and development of a strategy for capacity development. The key intervention envisaged under this component which aims to improve forest management include the review and update of the existing national forestry policy, 1994 and the forest sector master plan (1995-2015).

Under this component, it is being undertaken to revisit, revise and update FMP-1995 for the next 20 years. Bangladesh was one of the few countries to have had a FMP prepared by the Bangladesh Forest Department in 1995 with assistance of the Asian Development Bank, UNDP and FAO. The FMP provided an overview of the Bangladesh forest sector, identified sectoral strengths and weaknesses and presented an understanding of the steps required to enhance the sectoral development.
The FMP-1995 was developed by the Government of Bangladesh considering two broad scenarios, namely:

Scenario 1: Reflects the range of development possible within existing system constraints and technology

Scenario 2: Development potential possible by removing existing constraints imposed by current institutions and methods.

The FMP-1995 main plan consists of the following 4 sections.

– Background assessment: Forest sector status and sectoral outlook.

– People-oriented forestry: Environmental management, participatory forestry, wood-based energy conservation, non-wood forest products and Bamboo development.

– Production-directed forestry: Forest production and management, and forest industries

– Institutional strengthening: National forest policy, legal system, sectoral organization, human resource development, forestry research and extension, and programs and costs.

The structure of FMP-1995 lacks a logical flow. People-oriented forestry and production forestry are treated separately, even though they are linked to one another. The FMP-1995 does not provide overall vision for the sector, and short- and long-term goals for the whole sector and for the whole country. FMP-1995 however presents a good review of the sector status and outlook. In the environmental management section, the environmental issues are treated in a cursory manner, without going into the details of factors contributing to pressures on forests and its degradation.

The action programs for environment management in FMP-1995 have a very narrow focus and involve creating a watershed management wing, increasing EIA capacity, upgrading technical equipment and conducting inventories in selected forest divisions. The environmental management component is one of the components, which has been addressed least in FMP-1995, with insignificant budget allocation. However, today’s environmental challenges for the forest sector are enormous and require significant additional investment and technical capacity.

The FMP-1995 is over 20 years old and needs an update. Some of the institutional challenges that existed in the early 1990s do not exist anymore. Bangladesh has been implementing many progressive forest conservation and development programs. Participatory forestry is at the heart of forest management in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has a well established forest department and service with adequate technical capacity to manage forests. Many challenges identified even in FMP-1995 remain to be addressed and new challenges are emerging in Bangladesh forest sector. The environmental and socio-economic challenges determine the need for a new FMP. Some of the key potential reasons which were not or inadequately addressed in FMP-1995 necessitate a new FMP and include the following:

– Climate change; impacts, vulnerability and resilience:

– Sustainable forest management practices:

– Climate change mitigation through forest carbon sink conservation and enhancement:

– Conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services:

– International commitments to Multilateral Environmental Agreements/Conventions:

Other issues to be addressed in FMP-2014 are as follows:

Addressing the current and the projected demands on forest products and forest land

– Integrated land use management; land allocation to food production, livestock management, forestry, biofuel production, carbon mitigation, biodiversity conservation, etc.

– Synergy/convergence of FMP with Millennium Ecosystem Assessment goals

– Building institutions and technical capacity in Forest Department to cope with these challenges

– Developing plans for seeking funding from the traditional and new multilateral and bilateral funding sources relevant to climate change, biodiversity, mangrove restoration, etc.

A consulting firm will be appointed for the review and update of the existing FMP. Two consultants are already in position to help guide the selected consulting firm in reviewing and updating the existing FMP. A National Forestry Policy has been drafted as a revision of the existing National Forestry Policy of 1994 with an objective of guiding the preparation of new FMP.